The Value-Add Moneymaker

Energy management promises to glue security customers to their providers


ADT Pulse is pushing the message through nationwide marketing. In fact, there are almost 30 YouTube videos extolling the product's ability to provide security and save money with interactive services.

Alarm.com's offering lets customers set up daily thermostat schedules that map to their routine, via the Web. "At any time, from anywhere, a user can override the local thermostat schedule through their smartphone or computer if their schedule for the day changes, or if they are looking to save a bit more on energy," Slavin said.

The need to lower energy costs and consumption is real everywhere. Abid noted that each state regulates utilities a bit differently. However, the push seems biggest in areas like California and the West Coast, along the East Coast and around cities like Houston where energy consumption is expensive.

"In some areas, utilities are spending a lot of money educating the consumer," Ablondi added. This educated consumer will be more likely to buy from someone. The question is: who will make the sale?

Many packages will be available: security plus energy; energy plus home entertainment; a utility-sponsored kit. Whoever gets to the customer first is likely to keep that customer for some time.

"It is not clear-cut who will win the customer," Abid said. "It is not a zero-sum game." He foresees cases where a utility might hire a security firm to install energy monitoring equipment in its customers' homes.

The "green" sell is not compelling for everyone, according to Abid's research. Most people are not tree-huggers. But universal is the interest in saving money. "Regardless of who provides the tools, the customer is very interested in getting information about energy use," Abid said.

With energy costs in Houston-based Centerpoint Energy Inc.'s market ranging from eight cents per kWH in slack times to 13 cents per kWH in peak times (usually 1 to 6 p.m. when the grid is most stressed), there is ample opportunity to point out how in-home programmable units that work with Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) can save money.

What you don't know can cost you

"Vampire loads" add to every homeowner's electric bill. These are appliances that draw current even though they ostensibly are off (computer monitors are a good example). Controlling these vampire loads will save a customer about 10 percent more money.

Shade controls on the window system will cut HVAC costs, potentially saving the customer another 10 percent. Temperature control can result in a savings of 16 percent.

Lutron, which offers RadioRa 2 as an upgrade to its RadioRa system, will bring to market new temperature and appliance control offerings in the first four months of 2011. "If you look at a suite of products on one platform, the energy savings is significant," said Matthews.

Slavin noted that energy management systems have been adopted almost exclusively by the higher end of the market because they were expensive and focused more on convenience than energy savings.

"With cost-effective solutions now available, we see the mass market beginning to adopt this technology," Slavin added. "Although the high end of the market has more disposable income to spend on an energy management system, the mass market has the most to gain by investing in an energy management system that helps them effectively reduce their energy consumption and energy bills each month."

2Gig Technologies works with products from companies like APX Alarm and Alarm.com to deliver Z-Wave-based systems for energy control. Spearheaded by the Z-Wave Alliance, an international consortium of manufacturers who build interoperable Z-Wave enabled devices, the protocol is based on low-power RF radios embedded or retrofitted into home electronics devices and systems. They provide control of automation solutions running home lighting, access control, entertainment systems and household appliances.

"Having in-home, programmable thermostats and remote-control modules will allow consumers to use electricity based on price," said Abid. Smart appliances, (i.e.refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry dryers) come with embedded chips that allow two-way communications. These energy-saving platforms, at their most basic, can integrate into a security panel with contact closures.